Saturday, March 26, 2011

Highs and Lows


Well, I guess if someone is going to do a blog, they have to talk about the lows as well as the highs.  So, my latest “paint by numbers” has ended in failure.  After about 6 six weeks devoted to a duck painting, this morning I trashed it.  I saw this coming for the last two days and today I admitted to myself I had applied some paint earlier in the week that was fatal.  No fixing it.  Darn!

The painting in question was a piece I was doing to submit in the California state duck stamp competition.  For those not familiar with duck stamp competitions, in a nut shell many states, as well as the federal government run annual art competitions to select an entry to be that years artwork for the stamps that are issued for duck hunting licenses.  See: the funds generated by duck stamps go to water fowl related conservation projects.

For me duck stamp competitions have been in the back of my mind for about 10 years.  I’ve been interested in participating, but until now I didn’t have the time to commit to the photography, the research, and the months necessary to produce a quality painting.  What you need to know about duck stamp competitions is that they draw the absolute best wildlife, and water fowl artists in the United States.  The artwork is absolutely exceptional in composition and technique.  So, if you’re going to submit an entry it can’t be just really good, it has to be perfect. 

What went wrong this week?  I messed up the reflection of the male duck on the water.  I was probably within 20 hours of completion.  I had painted the upper background, the male and female ducks, and most of the female ducks reflection on the water.  I still had water behind the ducks to paint as well as the reflection beneath the male duck.  I went too dark on the male’s reflection.  When you paint with watercolor, that’s a no-no.  You can only lift off so much pigment before you risk damaging the board.  This is probably more than you care to know, but hey…therapy, it’s either talking through this or the hard stuff…and I don’t do hard stuff.  So, if you damage the texture of the board you change the way paint adheres, meaning it doesn’t blend properly.  This is one reason Watercolor painting is technically difficult.  With acrylic and oil paints to a certain degree you can paint over errors and redo.

This photo of the painting was taken on my cell phone about a week ago. 

Virtually  all duck stamp artwork submitted in competitions are acrylic compositions.  I may have to go there…I can’t be rounding 3rd base on my way to home and trip up and nose plant 4 feet in front of the plate as I did this week.

Since artwork for California’s stamp competition is due April 30, I am out of luck for this year – not enough time to generate a new one and frankly I was too close to completion to find the energy.
Thanks for checking in, I’ll be updating with whatever my next project will be.  Also, it’s been suggested that I include “in progress” photos so you can see how a painting goes from layout to signature.

I’ll do that next.

Cheers, mark

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